CGI image of Gatwick with 2nd runway
Drupal Case Study

Gatwick Obviously on Drupal, obviously!

Gatwick Airport needed to attract public opinion for its expansion with a flexible, extensible, and beautiful digital marketing platform as part of a broad awareness campaign across a variety of channels–from posters and billboards, to advertising, the web, mobile devices, and beyond. Drupal not only fulfilled those needs, it did so quickly in a fast-changing political atmosphere where speed and persuasion matter, and billions of pounds of economic development and jobs in the region are at stake.


The UK government appointed the Airport Commission to recommend a location for building a new runway in the southeast of England. The Commission short-listed options at Heathrow and Gatwick, to solve the UK’s air traffic capacity problem. To make its case to the Commission and raise awareness among influencers, businesses, politicians and the local community, London Gatwick launched the ‘Gatwick Obviously’ campaign and the website. Gatwick required a state-of-the-art digital presence to display its credentials and make its case as the best choice for the next “world class airport”, offering the best combination of solutions for transport both to and from London, and for managing environmental impact while maximizing that economic growth. The website had to complement the ongoing lobbying process with a combination of slick visual messaging, presentations, statistics and graphics to communicate all of Gatwick’s strengths as the ‘obvious’ choice for the commission to make.

Why Drupal

Various options were evaluated and the open source Drupal CMS was chosen as the best option for Drupal provides a solid, easy-to-use content management interface, allowing non-technical content authors and site administrators from Gatwick’s Marketing team to manage and update the site.

The flexibility of Drupal’s theming layer allowed the teams to present the otherwise text-heavy site as a visually engaging set of dynamic stories to multiple audiences across a proliferation of devices. on a tablet device

Drupal is extremely flexible, extensible, providing both the basis for building the initial microsite and supporting continuous enhancements. This modern, integrated marketing solution lets London Gatwick’s web and marketing teams introduce new features in rapid response to (ever)changing external factors, as well as build upon the initial microsite in future phases of development.

With just 6 weeks from concept to phase 1 release, tapping into Drupal’s rich existing ecosystem of modules--a collection of tens of thousands of functional extensions to Drupal’s core functionality--was instrumental to full service web & digital agency CTI Digital meeting the tight deadline.

Design focused implementation and enhancements

The overall focus of the design was based on a fullscreen, image-led, immersive experience. When users initially hit the home page the goal was to ‘wow’ and delight them. Using video as a full screen backdrop was a simple but very effective choice that would work on any device and draw attention immediately to the digitally animated runway presentation.

A mobile-first approach was taken with regards to the user experience, as it was anticipated the platform would attract a high level of mobile traffic. And indeed, 61% of visitor traffic is from tablet or mobile devices. Bursts of news and media interest could also lead to sudden traffic spikes and the Drupal theming system was ideal for meeting these requirements.

“The simplicity of Drupal’s content management features let us upload breaking news stories as they happen. Drupal’s scalability and seemingly limitless feature-flexibility help us add new features to the site quickly as the campaign progresses. ” – David Whitely, Campaign Manager on a desktop PC and smartphone

The bespoke responsive design is fully manageable via the Drupal CMS. A system of visual ‘components’ was devised, with the main pages of the website built up from any number of these in any order. Each component type–image rows, text + image, text carousel, video–was designed to be fully responsive across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. This system allowed the client to create unique, appealing pages and present any type of content in a visually impactful manner, while keeping brand consistency.

When the design really took off

Phase 2 of the build introduced some subtle and tasteful parallax motion on the desktop. When visitors scroll down the site, the background and images move at various different speeds. The idea was to give an impression of calming movement reflecting what you would experience onboard a plane.

The “Gatwick Transforming” section is another perfect example of how Drupal affords freedom of imagination like the integration of the “flying through the clouds” infographic animations at created using a cross-platform javascript animation platform.

“ is a great project example of how a client can get a rapid Minimum Marketable Product out and iterate, not knowing what they’ll need to deliver later. Using Drupal you can satisfy what you need now, confident you can deliver future requirements yet to be determined. That is exactly the allure Drupal presented to Gatwick.” – Paul Johnson, Drupal Director, CTI Digital

CGI Gatwick terminal image


Implementation by full service web & digital agency CTI Digital, Manchester & London.

Drupal fulfilled Gatwick Airport’s need for a digital marketing platform in a fast-changing political atmosphere where speed and persuasion matter, and billions of pounds of economic development and jobs in the region are at stake.
Gatwick Obviously
“Drupal was chosen because of its adaptability, allowing us to create a robust, user friendly and visually stunning website within an extremely limited time frame.” – David Whitely, Campaign Manager

Facts & Figures

  • 6 weeks from conception to launch
  • Fully responsive
  • 61% of all traffic is from mobile devices

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